Trauma Relief Unlimited
T.R.U. Design of Pilot Project
The Rhode Islanders Sponsoring Education (R.I.S.E.) Program provided a valuable venue for observing the effects of the T.R.U. method. R.I.S.E. is a network of 23 schools providing education to approximately 110 students. All students are from “high risk”, inner city environments. All had experienced at least one trauma through the incarceration of at least one parent, usually mother. Of the ten participating students, most had experienced this separation trauma before the age of eight.
The first design objective was to treat a significant number of actual trauma survivors from the general population of 110 R.I.S.E. students. A significant sample of ten students was ultimately selected from the general population. All ten students participating had experienced other traumatic episodes in addition to the separation trauma of incarceration noted above. All ten had experienced at least one episode of physical abuse, sexual abuse, rape, or the death of a close family member. Thus, the first objective of selecting actual trauma survivors for this pilot was achieved.
A second objective was to provide a sufficient number of applications of the T.R.U. method to provide necessary scientific data of observable change. Three such T.R.U. treatment applications were provided by Robert M. Cicione, L.I.C.S.W. This series of three weekly treatment sessions was preceded by a Psycho-Social Evaluation of each student. This was a fairly standard Psycho-Social Evaluation commonly used for initial intake in the psychotherapy field. It served to summarize the psychosocial experience of each student and to provide an overview for the therapist. A particular emphasis was placed on significant trauma experiences reported by each student. In all cases, at least three major trauma episodes were identified for treatment. In some instances, more than three were reported. In this instance, the therapist, with student input, chose those three most significant for treatment. Usually, the most severe were treated. One student for instance, had been raped three times in addition to multiple episodes of physical abuse and the aforementioned incarceration separation trauma. Because the sexual episodes were most likely to cause the most psychological damage, they were given priority for treatment.
The Psycho-Social Evaluation also provided a baseline for therapist observations of change in common trauma symptoms. Accordingly, the therapist noted on a weekly basis the number of common trauma symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety attacks, violent episodes and depression. In the later case, a five-point scale of depression was used to note changes in suicidal material and in vegetative signs. (Note the graph and data sheets of therapist observations of symptom changes attached here: Graph 1 and Graph 2).
The third objective of the pilot design was to provide more than one series of observations of change in student behavior. In actuality, four series of data were tracked adding to scientific validity and reliability. In addition to those observations of the therapist noted above, there were three others. A second series of data came from the standardized test, the TSCC-A. Note the “before and after” data graph attached and the report of the Psychometrist attached. Both the tool itself and Dr. Willis’ interpretation of results are valuable measures of the power and effectiveness of the T.R.U. method. A third data stream was produced by a questionnaire given to parents. (Note attached graph that indicates parent observations of change).
Finally, a fourth collection of data came from the teacher reports. An attempt was made to get quantitative teacher evaluations of the student behavior change. Because of some teacher confusion in interpreting the form and in inconsistencies of reporting, quantitative data from teachers is not reported. However, in more than one-half of all the cases, positive comments were noted by teachers about changes in student behavior. This was quite significant in itself since one would expect academic changes to have many roots in addition to previous trauma experiences. Moreover, positive teacher responses were remarkable since the study occurred at the end of the school year. Although not an educator, I wonder if there isn’t a momentum – positive or negative – as the school year moves on.
From a design perspective, it is important to note that multiple observation and data collection streams add to scientific validity and reliability. Important for our purposes, all four data collections support the direction, if not the degree, of positive changes. In short, the therapist, the parents, the teachers, and the standardized testing device all point to the power and effectiveness of the T.R.U. method.